The Case Western Reserve University women's tennis team will kick off its spring 2020 campaign this weekend, when the 29th-ranked Spartans take on 28th-ranked Hope College on Friday at 1:30 p.m., then face the eighth-ranked University of Chicago on Saturday at 3:00 p.m., and conclude the weekend with a match at Kalamazoo College on Sunday at 9:00 a.m.
Fans can follow all of the action during the weekend with live results at https://athletics.case.edu/sports/wten/live.
The Spartans will enter the 2020 spring season with high expectations, after a slew of strong performances in the fall placed the team within the top-30 of the Oracle/ITA Division III Women's Tennis National Rankings, and to seventh in the Central Region Preseason Poll. CWRU is coming off an 8-11 campaign in 2019, and a seventh-place finish at the University Athletic Association Championships.
"Since the fall season, we have already climbed five spots in the ITA national rankings which is a big step in the right direction for us," said Head Coach Kirsten Gambrell McMahon. "It was huge for us getting our first win over a top 25 opponent to begin the year. A win like that gives a young team like ours loads of confidence."
Leading the way for the Spartans will be NCAA All-American Madeleine Paolucci, who earned All-America honors last year at the 2019 NCAA Division III Individual Championships, as she picked up a first round win to become the first All-American singles player in the history of women's tennis. Paolucci returns this spring after ending last season ranked 20th among singles players in the Central Region.
"Not only is Maddie one of our team captains, but she is a crucial part of our team," said Gambrell McMahon. "She does an excellent job of leading her talented, but young teammates. Having accomplished so much at the beginning of her career, I know she did not meet her expectations in the fall. Knowing her so well, she has shown that she is extra motivated to work hard and raise her level this spring playing at the top of our lineup. I have a great deal of belief in Maddie's game and the way she competes."
Juniors Nicole Cardwell and Mira Amin each return this spring after earning All-UAA accolades last season. Cardwell earned All-UAA Second Team recognition at no. 1 doubles, after posting a 10-7 record in doubles play last season with Paolucci. Amin claimed All-UAA Honorable Mention honors for her play at third singles, after posting a 12-10 overall record and a 5-3 record at third singles.
In addition, sophomore Shreyaa Mukund will carry a 5-1 singles record from the fall to the spring. First-year Shreya Ramani will look to add from a strong fall, during which she went 5-2 in singles play, while sophomores Eliza Georgiades, Nidhi Jha and Sneha Karnam, and first-years Savannah Bright and Nina Hoog will look to make an impact during the upcoming season.
The Spartans are slated to face a strong schedule during the year, with nine of their opponents featured in National Preseason Rankings. The squad will make a trip to California in March, which includes a match against 11th-ranked Bowdoin College on March 9th, a match against second-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps College on March 11th and a match against the 34th-ranked University of Redlands on March 12th. Also in March, the Spartans will play a match against 25th-ranked Denison University on March 29th.
CWRU will head to Altamonte Springs, Florida from April 24th-26th for the 2020 UAA Championships. The always-tough conference features six nationally ranked teams this season, including top-10 teams in third-ranked Emory, seventh-ranked Carnegie Mellon, eighth-ranked Chicago and 10th-ranked Brandeis. From there, the Spartans hope to qualify for the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament, and the Individual Championships in St. Louis, Missouri at the end of May.
Meanwhile, the Spartans will kick off their campaign on Friday at 28th-ranked Hope College, which stands at 1-1 after an 8-1 loss to Carnegie Mellon on February 8th. The two schools met last season, with the Flying Dutch winning the match by a score of 5-4.
"We have been working towards getting ready for this first road trip for what seems like weeks and weeks," said Gambrell McMahon. "Playing two ranked teams in a weekend will be a huge test for us. I know we need to set the tone early in the doubles each day to give ourselves chances to win. We've really pushed ourselves physically on the court and with the trainers these last few weeks, so I think we will see a much fitter team as well."
Results and a recap of the matches from this weekend will be posted to athletics.case.edu at the completion of each match.